3 alternatives to Matthijs De Ligt for Barcelona
When Barcelona secured Frenkie de Jong's signature in the spring, club president Bartomeu was asked about Matthijs de Ligt. He said that the defender is a fantastic player but is not on the club's radar at the moment.
A few months later, after Ajax's run in the Champions League which was led by their mercurial 19-year-old captain, Barcelona were forced re-evaluate their stance for the player and they decided to go in for the player.
Given the rich ties the club share between them, the transfer was considered straight forward.
Earlier, various reports even suggested that Barcelona and the player had reached an agreement. However, the talks were postponed until later, as the Dutch center-back decided to focus on his team's Champions League semi-final tie against Tottenham.
Since then, the player's market value raised just as his personal demands. Mino Raiola, De Ligt's agent, has reportedly asked Barcelona to improve his personal deal as he wants to receive more money as compensation for the transfer.
With the club wage bill already accounting for 85% of the total revenue (recommended level is 75%), Barcelona can't improve the current deal and bow down to Raiola's demands.
Hence, the club might be forced to look at other options to strengthen their defense. So we look at 3 defenders the club might look for in place of De Ligt.
#3 Ibrahima Konate
A few years earlier, clubs needed a defender who could carry the ball from the back. But with the midfield getting conjusted, a new breed of center back has been slowly taking over football. Top clubs need center backs who can not only defend but players who have confidence on the ball and can break lines going forward. Konate is a player of the same mould.
Konate made his professional debut for Sochaux in 2017, at the age of 17. After a successful debut season, Konaté signed for RB Leipzig on a five-year contract.
Leipzig is a club that plays with a high back-line just like Barcelona. This means opposition try to play long balls or try to exploit the space left behind with the help of their wingers. So Leipzig needs a defender who possesses pace and is good in the air. Konate averages a dribbling success rate of just under 85% and wins 3.6 aerial duels per game.
This will be extremely helpful for Barcelona against teams like Villarreal who scored 4 goals exploiting the weaknesses discussed above. Add to that the overall defending qualities the player possesses and you have someone who could go on to become the world's best in his position in upcoming years.
The French contingent is already very strong at Barcelona and if Barcelona signs Konate, he will have no problem settling at the club quickly. With Gerard Pique being 32 and having few years of quality football left, he could really help Konate settle at the club and later have himself replaced by Konate himself.